My disorder may not be ‘culturally popular’, but it still exists

One of my recurring negative voices is “you never did anorexia probably, you were never thin enough, you were never sick enough, bulimia is an eating disorder to be embarrassed about, you couldn’t even do anorexia properly, no one cares about a bulimic etc etc etc.

I’ve never quite got rid of this voice, and while I can recognise it as not having a useful place in my life, it’s always like a low hum in the background.

Every now and again something happens to crank up the volume on it and today it was this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 19.48.16

This headline came up on my news feed (yes I need to clear my browsing history so the internet stops highlighting this stuff). It is is the relation to the the new BBC3 show ‘Overshadowed’ which while very good, and important, is the latest addition to a recent wave of anorexia shows/films.

I read it and thought to myself, you know what, actually we need to be talking about other eating disorders. We need to be talking about bulimia. We need to be talking about binge eating disorder. We need to be talking about the atypical presentations of anorexia and bulimia, we need to be talking about unspecified eating disorders.

We need to be talking about the disorders that are not a priority for treatment funding or research funding. We need to be talking about the eating disorders that the very people who suffer with them don’t even want to talk about. We need to normalise these illnesses to take away the insufferable immense deep dark shame that they can result in. I will talk about my periods of anorexia, but I won’t talk about how I would drive out of town to a supermarket to not be caught buying binge food. I will tell you about how cold I was when restricting, but we won’t discuss details of how to throw up into a plastic bag in your wardrobe without it leaking. I sought help when my weight reached a magical threshold that might make people pay attention, but no one would comment on my over-exercise if my thighs and belly are wobbling when I run. I cannot verbalise ‘I have an eating disorder’ at the moment because I am far too afraid that the response from a person who is educated by media such as above will be ‘but you’re not thin’.

Then, just to wind me up even more, I saw this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 19.48.57

Yes- it’s that hoodie. The slogan is wholly inappropriate, no one will disagree about that. Yet I’ve been more disappointed by the articles that have been written about it. I know I know these are quickly written response to capture a passing barely-news story but the fact that anorexia is the default go-to just reinforces that negative voice. Most of the stories are about how this hoody trivialises anorexia, how it’s disrespectful to people with anorexia, how anorexia is far more than self-control, about how we need to educate people about anorexia more. Throughout this, there are barely any referencing to bulimia. The hoody is far more insulting to the illness of bulimia but no one seems to want to talk about that – but is that again due to the shame that the illness can carry – that we’re far less likely to raise our hands and say ‘bulimia sucks too (and I have it)’.

Okay, rant over, I just needed to get the crazy out of my head. I know this is something I have to work on, and I’m aware the above rant is definitely not a well-researched critical appraisal of modern media- it is just my thoughts going ‘arrrrgggghhhh’.

Good night all x




10 thoughts on “My disorder may not be ‘culturally popular’, but it still exists

  1. Some people think that the inner sense of shame stats the ED – either the need for control and perfectionism ‘numb’ the shame, or you try to numb it with food. Whatever else is going on, remember that you are worthy, an essential part of the big thing that we are all part of. You are worthy of love and lovable – and you write a great blog!
    I’ve been practising loving kindness meditation and I feel so much better, (but I have gained 5lb in a month-eek!). We will be fine! Keep on doing your best, it is enough. Love jxx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Couldn’t agree more, it’s about time other disorders received equal publicity… we shouldn’t feel ashamed to ‘fit’ into another category outside of the ‘anorexic’ remit. It’s almost like you read my mind and projected it into an articulate blog entry. Thank you x

    Liked by 3 people

  3. True. I could go on and on and on and on about this. The emaciated near death look of anorexia makes up possibly 2% of the ed community but it’s the media who have taken this and made this represent eating disorders and thus misinform the public regarding the true myriad of disorders and what they look like in all their diversity. People are unique and everyone’s eating disorder will be unique even thigh very similar in many ways. Its a spectrum of behaviors and a spectrum of weight, although we know weight and food obsession is a symptom to a very unwell set of thoughts and feelings, way of coping and self expression xx

    Liked by 3 people

  4. ARGH you are SO RIGHT X I agree with you Ten Thousand Percent !! thanks for putting it into words so clearly ! I haven’t seen that show either and I’m sure I won’t watch it xo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. THIS THIS THIS! Everything about this post I agree with 100%!

    Explaining bulimia to people gets so frustrating because all people seem to know about it is making yourself throw up. It’s so much more than that and there are also different kinds of bulimia. I’ve had to explain on multiple occasions that laxative abuse is bulimia, and quite honestly, I don’t feel like having to go through that conversation all the time, lol. My diagnosis has also made me feel like my eating disorder is not “real” and that I was never “sick enough” because my anorexia was left undiagnosed (it was praised, if anything) and my bulimia is written off, too.

    I just feel like the conversation needs to be expanded so, so much, for every kind of eating disorder. We need narratives of anorexia that don’t center around thin, white women, but we also need more narratives about bulimia, binge eating disorder, and every other form of disordered eating.

    Have you read Hunger by Roxane Gay?

    I think you might also like this article:

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Feel free to rant ad infinitum, seriously… it is a rant worth vocalizing. It is utterly frustrating, the exclusivity of it. The other unspoken topic is the hierarchy of eating disorders with anorexia on top, binge eating on the bottom and all the rest at various levels in between based on the amount of pride or shame they produce. This is exactly one reason I stopped saying anorexia specifically on my blog and just say eating disorder. I had a huge investment in my identity as an anorexic. I had to face that when it was changed to unspecified eating disorder because, you know, I wasn’t skeletal. I had to really look at it and what I saw made me sick. Within that identity I discovered pride. The more I held on to that, the less I wanted to admit that I purged, that I was an exercise addict, that I didn’t perfectly fit that profile.

    Movies, shows, articles, etc all show the emaciated woman (not showing that men have this too) dwindling away, donned with tubes in a hospital bed. What they don’t show is bulimics dropping dead from heart attacks and electrolyte imbalances, and all the things atypicals go through, or the crushing stigma in binge eating disorder, not just from society but from doctors, nurses and many professionals. My iOP has a capacity of 12 and every one of us are different, even if we have similar diagnoses.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The emaciated near dying face of anorexia makes up possibly 2% of the ed biotic community but it’s the media who give birth taken this and made this comprise eating disorders and thus misinform the public regarding the true myriad of disorders and what they face like in all their multifariousness. !

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes to so much of this! I am a person with binge eating disorder and the stereotypes about fatness and obesity get hurled at me all the time. I get told I don’t ‘look’ sick, but that I could ‘stand to lose a little weight’ (even by medical professionals)–and people don’t believe me that just because I live in a normal weight/classically “overweight” body when I say that I have a tremendous history of exercise bulimia as well as restriction. We have this really ugly dichotomy of “thin” being the ideal, fit body as well as being the “too sick to function”, eating disordered body. I often ask myself, so which one is it? And do I not deserve respect or love or help or compassion because I am not thin or fit? Our culture is insane.

    Liked by 1 person

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